Giant Dinosaurs: The Huge Birds That Tried Not to Crush Their Own Eggs

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You may look out the window and see a cute nest filled with tiny eggs and a hummingbird ready to sit on them. No worries there! But imagine how a dinosaur sat on its eggs without turning them into an omelet! That’s a bit difficult, right?

Well, scientists say it’s not that hard to imagine if you see what they’ve discovered. So far, there have been many nests uncovered by archaeologists, and among them, some were in perfect shape. In Mongolia, in the Gobi Desert, a team unveiled a dinosaur sitting in a nest. The specimen was perfectly preserved, probably dying under a collapsing dune or in a storm.

What baffled scientists was how the dinosaur sat on the nest. It was found with the arms that looked like wings; all spread to protect its 12 eggs. The eggs were carefully aligned in a ring around the dinosaur skeleton, leaving room in the center for the huge body.

‘10,000 Species of Dinosaurs Fluttering About’

This fact is evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs, with nesting behavior dating back to 65 million years ago.

Paleontologist Stephen Brusatte explained that:

“A lot of us were brought up on this idea that dinosaurs were big overgrown lizards, lumbering and dimwitted, and that’s just not the case at all.”

Paleobiologist Greg Erickson (Florida State University in Tallahassee) was part of the team that studied the nest, and he reached to the conclusion that “you can walk outside today and see 10,000 species of dinosaurs fluttering about.”

A more recent discovery published in the journal Biology Letters shows that dinosaurs were very careful when they nested their eggs and today’s birds have learned from their ancestors how to nest. Co-author of the study, Darla Zelenitsky (University of Calgary, Canada) said that:

“Most likely this behavior of sitting on the nest evolved first in dinosaurs.”

Zelenitsky and her team studied 40 oviraptorosaurs nests – dinosaurs that looked like birds and lived over 65 million years ago. Oviraptorosaurs had different size – the smallest one was a few pounds and the largest ones weighted almost 4,000 pounds! The nests measured 1-foot-wide for the small specimens to 10 feet wide for the largest ones.

Imagine a Rhino Sitting on Its Eggs

Zelenitsky said that in small nests, the eggs were close to the center. The bigger the nests were, the more room to the center of it was, so that the creature could have space to sit in the middle:

“The photos don’t do these clutches of eggs justice. They’re two to three layers of eggs, and they’re stacked in a spiral that inclines up toward the center of the nest.”

Zelenitsky admits that they don’t know yet why dinosaurs built nests. It could have been to keep them warm, sheltered or to protect them.

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.